No matter how many toys we have, someone else, somewhere always has more.
You might have the whole 1st series of Super Powers figures, but do you have the Hall of Justice playset?
You've been the talk of the schoolyard since you got the Go-Bot's Leader-1 for your birthday, but that kid over there just got Optimus Prime, so you're old news, jack!
Sometimes it's just a numbers game. Sure, you're a fancy pants because you've got 1 M.A.S.K vehicle
(You know, that dumb ol' orange Jeep called Gator), But don't go calling yourself King of Toys just yet...
'Cause Richie Rich over there has ALL the M.A.S.K. AND Venom vehicles. Later, Skater!
We can respond to these situations in one of two ways:
Bitter Rivalry & Scorn
Form a Toy Alliance in order to ERASE THE HATE and INCREASE THE PEACE, playa!
I always went with option two, mostly because my toys were okay-but that kid's toys were RAD!
And frankly, "I'm down with O-P-T, yeah you know me!"
So here's the run-down of my 80's/90's toy network and contacts.
NAME: Ben D. aka King of the Ring aka Kara's Older Brother aka Generous G.
CLAIM TO FAME: If you wanted to act out the latest bout from last week's Wrestlemania with Hulk Hogan or Roddy Piper, Ben was the guy to see.
He had almost all of those 8" LJN WWF figures (the one's with zero points of articulation) and the RING! There was nothing better than making Big John Stud (who I've never actually seen wrestle) bounce off the ropes and deliver a solid clothesline to old Hillbilly Jim, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat or King Kong Bundy.
Oh, the glory days of the WWF merchandising.
THE ANGLE: Mighty Ben was actually my classmate (and secret crush) Kara's older brother.
So I had to fake a play-date with Kara and watch an episode of Care Bears before I could talk Ben into bringing down the goods.
OTHER: As a side note, when Ben got into Junior High, he actually gave me all the figures and the ring! What kindness, what benevolence, let us sing a song of praise to Holy Ben!
NAME: Brent W. aka Mr. Stay-Puft aka The 5th Ninja Turtle aka That Lucky Duck
CLAIM TO FAME: Who you gonna call? BRENT-W! For any and all Ghostbusters Toys, Brent was Da Man.
He not only had all the individual Ghostbusters and spooky Ghosts he also had The Firehouse playset, ecto-1, ecto-2 and tons of slime!
When Turtle Power came into vogue Brent became the man to see for the TMNT! He had all the regular series and the variants like: Samurai Leo, Undercover Don, Space Cadet Raph, Sewer Surfer Mike and even the pizza thrower!
THE ANGLE: Brent lived across the street from my elementary school, so it was easy to get him caught up in a conversation about how awesome TMNT 3 was going to be (had we only known) and before you know it we had arrived at his house. How about that.
OTHER: Brent was also the kid that went to all the tie-in events like seeing the MOTU Power Tour stage show, TMNT: Comin' Out of Their Shells tour and was even in the audience for the local SoCal Super Mario Bros. Super Show rip-off, King Koopa's Kool Kartoon's show. Of course, Yours Truly was never invited-I think he knew I was a USER.
NAME: ERIK F. aka G.I. Jacuzzi aka Snake Eyes aka Abuser of the User
CLAIM TO FAME: Though I'll only focus on his largest collections, this kid had EVERYTHING!
Literally a double-sided closet full of action figures from almost every series of the 80's/90's, neatly organized into separate pull out baskets.
I mostly remember his literal army of G.I. Joes. He was always Snake Eyes and I was always some version of Storm Shadow.
House rules dictated that Snake Eyes always beat Storm Shadow, but at least I always knew what the outcome would be and you guessed it: Knowing is half the battle!
Big E also had a Jacuzzi with this cool waterfall built-in that we would use to pretend the Joes were on missions in the jungle, no specific location, just "The Jungle".
Really though, it was all about his vast selection: Thundercats, T2, Aliens, the kid was loaded .
Erik always told me that the reason he had the best figures was because he visited Colorado a lot and they had better toy stores there, I have yet to test that story.
THE ANGLE: Erik lived on the opposite side of the street (from Brent) across from the school, so again it was easy to find myself over at his house.
Hey, I was the fat kid, I couldn't be walking and running all over the place, I had to be efficient!
OTHER: Erik had some "Rage" issues and would really beat the crap out of me when his parents weren't looking. But to get the chance to play with every Silverhawks figure ever made I was willing to go home with a little black and blue.
NAME: Kelley & Sean aka M.U.S.C.L.E. Men aka Boglin Bros. aka Princes of Thieves
CLAIM TO FAME: Kelley was my age and Sean was the older brother. These guys had all the fringe fads of the day: Mad Balls, Boglins and M.U.S.C.L.E. figurines.
Plus they had a rather large collection of Star Wars figures that always seemed to be getting larger. Hey, wait a minute! Those are my Star Wars Figures!
Seriously, these kids broke into my house, stole all of my Star Wars toys including the Ewok Village and when I confronted their parents about it they said, "Oh, no, they have a friend who is sick and he gave them those toys". Yeah, because you know the moment I get a sore throat I'm giving away all of my earthly possessions. Nice story-NOT!
I even showed them MY Mom's gold bracelet I got caught in the back of the Rancor's throat but their Mom lied and said,"There's my bracelet, I was wondering where that went". Gypsies, tramps and THIEVES!
This was worse than "The Great Popple Conspiracy" (see my other article "That's Girl's Stuff" for more details) and went unresolved because their Mom could beat up my Mom.
THE ANGLE: They lived next door to me, which gave them great access to STEAL MY TOYS! ARGH! SERIOUSLY THAT'S MESSED UP-GOSH!
So yes, the Toy Alliance eventually backfired and I had to go back to my garage sale gold of somebody's old broken Transformers and G.I. Joes.
You may be asking, what was your contribution? Was this not an alliance? A network of sharing? Well, here's what I brought to the table: IMAGINATION! These kids were so spoiled by having every toy they ever wanted, they didn't know what to do with them. I was the storyteller, the director, if you will.
Was G.I. Joe fighting Cobra...again? NO! The former rivals were now in cahoots, getting ready to storm the gates of Castle Grayskull so they could rule Eternia!
Does Batman:TAS (the animated series) have what it takes to defeat Swamp Thing:TAS-let's find out!
Without a visionary, playtime can only go so far.
That's a wrap, cut and print.